Joel v Morison [1834] 172 ER 1338;

(1834) 6 Car & P 501




The plaintiff was walking on foot on a public highway. The defendant had a horse and a cart, which were under the care, government and direction of his servant. The servant was driving the cart carelessly, improperly and negligently and struck the plaintiff with the cart whilst making a detour from the task, which his master had sent him for. The plaintiff fell on the ground and as a result, one of his legs was fractured. He was prevented from conducting his business for six months, he had to incur medical expenses and further expenses in order to employ workers to look after his business. The plaintiff sought compensation from the master.


Is the master of a servant liable in damages for the careless driving of the latter?


The verdict was in favour of the plaintiff.

(1) The master is liable for the careless driving of his servant if the servant is driving the cart on his master’s business or if the servant, being on his master’s business, decides to take a detour.

(2) The master is not liable for the careless driving of his servant, if the servant decides to lend the cart to another person without the master’s knowledge or the cart is secretly taken by a person who is not at the time employed on his master’s business.